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Scientifically rigorous reptile and amphibian osseous pathology: Lessons for forensic herpetology from comparative and paleo-pathology

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image of Applied Herpetology

As the study of bone disease in recent and fossil amphibians and reptiles has evolved from observational speculation to analysis of testable hypotheses, so too has recognition of its contribution to our understanding of diseases and organisms. Given the development of a 'library' of macroscopic osseous manifestations of a variety of diseases, the power of such examination of skeletons for identification of the etiology of pathology has greatly reduced the need for destructive analysis. High frequency of malformations in amphibians or of spondyloarthropathy in reptiles should stimulate evaluation for environmental causal factors. Notation of previously unrecognized/undescribed pathology affords unique opportunities. Scientific approach, validated database and phylogeny-independent pathology recognition form the basis for this review of the current knowledge of contemporary and extinct amphibian and reptile osseous pathology. This provides baseline data for forensic herpetologists and others attempting to identify and interpret osseous lesions, disease and trauma in a forensic context.

Affiliations: 1: University of Kansas Department of Anthropology and Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Dyche Hall, Lawrence, Kansas 66006, and Department of Medicine, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, OH, USA, Arthritis Center, 529 East 1700 Rd, Baldwin, KS 66006, USA;, Email:


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